Founded in 2018 by entrepreneur Kim Do Yeon, Woohwaman is an interactive platform for consumers to share beauty product ideas in hopes that the company may bring it to life.
Loosely translated from Korean, Woohwaman means ‘we make cosmetics together’.
Rachel Song, director of product development, told CosmeticsDesign-Asia that the company started out with a goal of ‘creating products customers really want’.
“The beauty market is very large and attractive however the rate of success is very low because there are more than 2,000 new brands that enter the market every year. So rather than focus on creating a new brand, we decided to take a different approach and create items that will serve as a solution to what consumers want.”
Beauty consumers with a product idea can submit an application form on the Woohwaman platform.
The ideas are and selected and evaluated internally among the company. If an idea is selected for production, the user that suggested the idea will get a 3% cut of the product retail price.
To select the right ideas, it is crucial for the company to have a finger on the pulse of the ever-changing trends of the K-beauty market.
“When we review ideas, the first step for us is to think about market trends. Trends move rapidly in the Korean beauty market. As such, the products we develop must be ahead of the trends and we have to expect the market trends for the next two seasons to stay ahead,” said Song.
In the past two years, the company has developed several cosmetic products using this model.
One such product is the Latibule facial sheet masks for pregnant women, which has sold half a million units in the past six months alone.
The popularity of the product has prompted the firm to export it overseas, beginning with Switzerland, where there is a growing appetite for K-beauty.
Another product that has done very well is the Osak Hand Gel, a sanitising hand cream that was launched in November 2019, just months before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“During that time, there weren’t a lot of hand sanitisers in the Korean market, but we knew there was a growing interest in personal hygiene. We saw an opportunity to create a trendy and portable hand sanitiser for the market. After the launch, COVID-19 broke out and our product became extremely successful in the market,” said Song.
Now that it has proven this model works and can be very successful, Woohwaman is aiming to partner with other cosmetic companies to create products.
The firm is currently under Beiersdorf’s exclusive beauty accelerator, Nivea Accelerator (NX) and hopes this program can help it open more doors.
“Our company very interested in collaborating with other businesses – it is very trendy in the Korean market now. Currently, we are participating in NX so we would love to collaborate with Beiersdorf, especially Nivea,” said Song.
Woohwaman also hopes to capitalise on the global popularity of K-beauty to expand its business overseas.
“We want to show our items to overseas market and I think they will do well because they are very creative and K-beauty is very popular globally,” said Song.
While the company has plans to enter the Japanese, North American and European markets, the plans are on hold due to the COVID-19 situation.
Instead, Song revealed that the company was working on the development of a live commerce platform.
“Today, sales channels are transforming at a rapid pace. Beauty companies have to get used to these trends as soon as possible and not rely on traditional channels and find more innovative methods of selling.”
The company hopes to use its platform capitalise on a South Korean phenomenon known as ‘group purchasing’.
“It’s similar to China where there’s a wanghong that sells products. But in Korea, you don’t need a lot of followers. Even with 5,000 followers, these Instagrammer are able to sell because their followers really trust them,” explained Song.